How to retrieve the position (X,Y) of an HTML element relative to the browser window?

To get the position of an HTML element is to use element.getBoundingClientRect():

var rect = element.getBoundingClientRect();
console.log(rect.top, rect.right, rect.bottom, rect.left);

Internet Explorer has supported this since as long as you are likely to care about and it was finally standardized in CSSOM Views.?All other browsers adopted it a long time ago.

Some browsers also return height and width properties, though this is non-standard. If you're worried about older browser compatibility, check this answer's revisions for an optimised degrading implementation.

The values returned by element.getBoundingClientRect() are relative to the viewport. If you need it relative to another element, simply subtract one rectangle from the other:

var bodyRect = document.body.getBoundingClientRect(),
    elemRect = element.getBoundingClientRect(),
    offset   = elemRect.top - bodyRect.top;

alert('Element is ' + offset + ' vertical pixels from <body>');